15 things to do in Oberhausen (Germany)

The cradle of Ruhr industry, Oberhausen is a city that didn’t even exist before the 1860s. A metallurgical and coal mining complex brought thousands of families to settle in communities such as Siedlung Eisenheim, one of Germany’s first corporate towns.

Heavy industry began to fade away in the 1970s, and since then Oberhausen’s image has changed. The modern Neue Mitte is the new heart of the city, where you can shop at the second largest mall in the country and take the kids to Legoland and Sea Life for a few days.

There are also remnants of Oberhausen’s industrial era, such as the giant gas meter, which is now a jaw-dropping art installation and exhibition space, and a well-preserved rolling mill with its machinery intact.

Let’s explore the best things to do in Oberhausen:

1. Gas meter Oberhausen

gas meter oberhausen

The city’s postcard image is a converted gas meter, built in 1929 and nearly 120 meters high.

It was damaged during the war, but was reassembled and operational in 1950, and finally decommissioned in 1988. But the gas meter has become such a landmark that the city purchased it and voted to convert it into an exhibition space.

Since 1994, art, science, natural world, solar system and world heritage exhibitions have taken advantage of this unique setting and its haunting echoes.

The internal elevator also takes you to the roof with panoramic views of the Ruhr area.

2. Ludwig Galerie Schloss Oberhausen

Ludwig Gallery Schloss Oberhausen

Like the gas meter, the neoclassical Oberhausen Palace and its Kaisergarten are located on the Ruhr Industrial Culture Route.

Built in the mid-19th century, the palace has been run since the 1980s by the Art Foundation founded by 20th-century collectors Peter and Erin Ludwig.

Up to seven exhibitions are held each year, showcasing the Foundation’s extensive art and photography collections, and hosting traveling collections.

Since 1998, the Ludwig Gallery has presented exhibitions for Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Herlinde Koelbl, Regina Relang and Brigitte Kraemer.

3. Kaiser Gardens

Emperor's Garden

Oberhausen was a young town at the end of the 19th century when a 28-hectare park was designed next to Oberhausen Palace.

The Kaiser Garden was inaugurated on the 100th birthday of Kaiser Wilhelm I, hence the name.

About a quarter of the Kasiergarten is woodland and a third is forest, many of which are older than the park itself.

Morning runs, easy walks, picnics and summer, while pony rides, mini golf centres and animal enclosures will be popular with young members of the family.

Kaisergarten has more than 450 animals, most of them farm animals, but also lynx, ibex and wolves.

4. Center


CentrO, Germany’s second largest shopping centre, is the heart of Neue Mitte and opened in 1996. CentrO has more than 250 retail stores, stocking every major German and international mid-market brand.

Zara, H&M, Bershka, Mango, NewYorker join the ranks of more high-end designers such as Tommy Hilfiger, Guess and Replay.

Almost all the big attractions on this list like Gasometer, LEGOLAND, SEA Life are within easy reach of the store.

CentrO also has a multiplex cinema and the second largest food court in Europe with 1,100 seats.

Outside is a 400-meter long pedestrian promenade with restaurants, bars and clubs, while in December the outdoor area hosts Oberhausen’s Christmas market.

5. Zinkfabrik Altenberg

Zinkfabrik Altenberg

The LVR-Industriemuseum operates a number of former industrial sites in this corner of the Oberhausen and Ruhr area, and its headquarters are in this former sheet metal factory.

Zinkfabrik Altenberg operated for 130 years until the 1980s and was a rolling mill in the construction industry.

The factory’s showroom describes how arable land became the world’s largest industrial center, and introduces the “Malochers”, industrial tycoons with unprecedented power, and the daily lives of men and women working in the steel plant.

Much of the plant’s equipment is still in place so you can see how a 53-ton steam hammer and lathe works and see the steel being ripped apart right in front of you.

6. Sidron Eisenheim

Sidron Eisenheim

Siedlung Eisenheim is a protected monument and a stop on the Ruhr Industrial Heritage Trail, the Ruhr’s first workers’ settlement and one of Germany’s first corporate towns.

The community dates back to 1846 and was completed in stages over the next 50 years.

By the turn of the century, 1,200 people lived in 51 brick houses spread over long terraces.

The community was built by Oberhausen’s mining and metallurgical conglomerate Gutehoffnungshütte.

Of the 51 buildings here 100 years ago, 38 are still standing because residents steadfastly prevented demolition in the 1970s.

7. Sea Life Aquarium

Sea Life Aquarium

The branches of the Oberhausen Sea Life Aquarium chain are home to more than 5,000 species of marine life and a total water volume of 2 million liters.

The main attraction has to be the largest shark tank in Germany, complete with an underwater tunnel where you can observe blacktip reef sharks and rays from below.

A new turtle exhibit, which opened in 2017, combines turtle enclosures with facts about their habitat, evolution, many different species, and their diets and behaviors.

Pay attention to the feeding schedule and feed the shark tank twice a day at 13:00 and 16:00.

8. Slinky Springs to fame

Slinky Springs to Fame

“Slinky Springs to Fame” is a bridge designed by Frankfurt-based artist Tobias Rehberger that spans the Rhine-Hern canal between Kaisergarten and Emscherinsel.

The bridge can be described as a walkable sculpture and was inaugurated in 2011. The name makes sense when you see metal spirals twisting on the sidewalk.

On the entry ramp, the paths are paved in different colors that change every few meters.

Try to come by at night when the bottom of the sidewalk lights up.

9. Legoland Discovery Center

Legoland Discovery Center

Opposite the CentrO canal promenade is the Legoland Discovery Centre in Oberhausen.

This indoor theme park, aimed at children under 10, has two rides and ten areas where kids can build and play with LEGO.

In Miniland, large landmarks on the Rhine and the Ruhr area, such as Dortmund’s Signal Iduna Park, are built with LEGO bricks, while the 4D Cinema screens LEGO-themed 3D movies with multi-sensory special effects.

10. Water Park

water park

Not many people can say they’ve been to an industrial-themed water park.

AQUApark pays homage to Oberhausen’s mining heritage with an industrial-style metal and glass roof that is partially retractable and opens up on warm summer days.

The diving board of the main pool is designed like a head frame in a mine, while the children’s play pool also has obstacles like a horse loaded with mining tools.

Even the foyer area has an exhibition of black and white photographs documenting the days of mining and heavy industry in the Ruhr area.

The 120-meter-long tube slide is one of the best experiences for young people and is the longest of its kind in Europe.

11. Bunker Museum

Bunker Museum

The Bunkermuseum, near Gasometer and CentrO, is a site of exhibitions in a WWII-era Hochbunker.

In 2001, the upper level of the bunker was modernized and expanded, while the lower level was completely preserved as it was at the end of the war.

Temporary exhibitions alternate between contemporary history and art.

The permanent exhibition documents World War II in the Ruhr from the Blitz in 1940 to the Allied bombing of the area from 1943 to 1945.

12. Gehölzgarten Ripshorst

house ripshorst

Due east of Neue Mitte is a former noble estate, now a park on the southern bank of the Rhine-Herne Canal.

Set in open meadows and woodland, Haus Ripshorst is a knightly property from the 1300s and the only medieval residence in Essen.

Haus Ripshorst is now the information center for the Escher Landschaftspark, which consists of the natural spaces of the river valley and former industrial facilities.

The land surrounding the house was once set aside for the metallurgical plant in Oberhausen, but now it is possible to stroll along the canal and take part in a variety of outdoor activities in the summer.

13. Zauberlehrling


In the Gehölzgarten Ripshorst Park, there is a curious sculpture installed in 2013. Zauberlehrling (The Sorcerer’s Apprentice) was inspired by Goethe’s poetry, and in the spirit of the story, it looks like an electric pylon that has come back to life and started dancing.

Alone in a field, the piece stands 35 meters high and was designed by Berlin-based art collective Inges Idee.

Since 1995 they have created many otherworldly works of public art in Germany, Europe and Japan.

14. Metronome Theater

Metronome Theater

Neue Mitte’s final project was a stop-per-show theatre with a curved roof shaped like a faucet.

The Metronom Theatre was completed in just ten months as of September 1999, with a capacity of 1,807 spectators.

The venue hosts a show for about a year, which in the past has included the Blue Man Group’s residence, as well as musicals such as Mamma Mia!, Dirty Dancing, The Phantom of the Opera, Beauty and the Beast, and Tarzan.

15. International Short Film Festival

International Short Film Festival

The Lichburg Cinema in Oberhausen curates one of the oldest and most prestigious short film festivals in the world.

The event started in 1954 and took place in mid-May.

For culture lovers, a long list of well-known directors has submitted early entries to the festival: Werner Herzog, Roman Polanski, Martin Scorsese and newcomers like Miranda July etc.

Wim Wenders sees the festival as one of the reasons that got him into filmmaking.

There are categories for children aged 10 and over as well as teens (14+) during the six-day screening.

Where to Stay: Best Hotels in Oberhausen, Germany
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